Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Shiomomi Nasu: A No-Cook Eggplant Recipe

Eggplant and our new pickle-making jar at the ready!
My Japanese teacher is a great cook. We discuss many things in our sessions, and the topic often centers around food. We share recipes for favorite dishes, and quite regularly she'll whip out a small plate and serve up some creation from her kitchen. It is invariably delicious. (She's also a really great teacher.)

The most recent of these is shiomomi nasu (salt-massaged eggplant). She knows, of course, of my interest in food, farmers markets, and that I work on an organic farm in Tokyo. One day as I shared with her some nasu (eggplant) from the farm, she mentioned a no-cook recipe. My ears perked up immediately as I'm always on the watch for dishes that don't require turning on the stove in this heat.

Shiomomi Nasu
1 eggplant (small to medium size)
1 tablespoon salt*

Thinly slice the eggplant and place in a bowl.
Sprinkle the salt evenly over the slices and massage.
Let sit for ten minutes or so before serving. The salt, just as it does when making umeboshi, draws out fluid from the eggplant and softens it.
Keeps in the refrigerator for a few days. (We eat it pretty quickly, so I've no real idea of how long it will last there.)

*I used a pre-seasoned salt mix we picked up at Kawaguchiko's most excellent vegetable stand. It contains salt, togarashi (hot peppers), and a little shiso. It is perfection.

Since discovering this most excellent recipe I continued to experiment with other vegetables. Takashi-san recommended cucumbers, and then I tried a salad squash (like the one I discovered at the Kamakura Farmers Market). It stayed pleasantly crunchy with a terrific flavor. In another batch I mixed in thinly sliced garlic, recently harvested from the garden. It was wonderful, but I would recommend slicing it into small sticks. The big pieces can prove shockingly strong even for a fan like me.

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